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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Dear all,

I couldnt find a newbie introduction page... so hopefully my build thread here is ok.. if not, mods please move it.

Quick intro.. my name is Alessandro, I live in San Francisco... Ive been riding bikes since I was young, and Ducatis for about 10 years. I'm originally from Milan, italy.. have spent about 20 years in the US, and now call San Francisco home until drought, taxes, or earth shakes make me leave.

Some of you may know me from Ducati.ms, if you do, I look forward to keeping up with you here. I'm starting this thread to document the 2+ year build of a custom Ducati I had the idea for about three years ago... after many sketches and budget estimations...I decided that spending cash on something which I dreamed and drew myself, was a million times better for me than adding a bunch of carbon to yet another new Ducati.

Having had the privilege of meeting a lot of Ducati people on the East Coast at a little Ducati gathering which I had created about 6 years ago, I knew there was one man i could trust to start this project.

I joined forces with a wonderful man... Johann Keyser of Motomotivo... after having seen his beautiful custom bikes, check out his website if you want to see more. I can't say enough about what a great experience it was working with johann, as he helped source the Ducati Monster 1000s2r and the 999s frame and body from which we created UNA.

Fast forward a bit... and I realized that I wasn't going to make a small build... it was going to be a full-on vision of what I thought a post-modern cafe racer should look like. I spoke to Pierre Terblanche during one of his visits to California, and he showed me the original locomotive pic from where the original ducati 999 inspiration came from... and then listened as he told me about all the homologation and production-based compromises which had to make to his design in order to make the 999 a reality. His locomotive picture stuck however... and it is from this that the project began.


These were the build parameters. I loved the 999... I wanted to make a post-modern, art-deco'ish... raw metal version of it... I also wanted it to come alive... I wanted it to have the same proportions as the locomotive in the picture... big and convex up front... getting smaller and concave at the rear. I also knew I hated symmetry... why does anything have to be symmetric?...

Lastly... and equally as important... i knew i liked TRELLIS... trellis is like bones or bloodvessels... the structure of a ducati.. I've been dismayed at the appearance of all these cast iron parts on new ducatis... and I wanted trellis to suspend the bike fully... like a bimota for example. I also knew that I wanted raw metal draped over the trellis... in a way to show it like an android horse... half machine half organic animal... i wanted the metal to rip away from the body to show some of the red bones underneath... it had to be hand-beaten metal over trellis in a way which showed this in a way I hadn't seen before... yep, i had to go full out... even if I had to do this in two phases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Phase I.

Una started out at Johann's shop as a monster engine, with a 999s frame. To maintain the locomotive theme I sourced some quad rotors from beringer... these had the dual benefit of being much smaller than stock sportbike rotors which would show off the wire wheels, as well as looking just slightly like train track wheels...

Bellissimoto was instrumental in helping get this order right... and this is also about the time that I realized that my budget for this project was woefully low... but more on that later.

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the second thing I decided on right away was that I definitely wanted single-sided wire wheels, preferably tubeless, so as to fit on the monster s2r swingarm. This proved tougher than I thought. originally I thought alpina had a solution like this... but it was still "in development"... I happened to be in italy visiting family and I found Kineo wheels... they had a custom single sided solution but to be honest... sooo... Kineo it was... and yes, it took about 2.5 months to get my wheels while dealing with some very nice people at the factory... had I not spoken italian though and known when to pick up the phone... it may not all have happened. luckily... everything went to plan... attached is a pic of wheels very similar to mine.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
so, while Johann could assemble a fantastic bike, and do the critical custom work to get the s2r trellis swingarm to fit with the 999 frame... he didn't want to make bodywork.

I had a specific idea for the body, and it had to be made out of some kind of alloy. I also didn't want some regular cafe racer look... the art-deco style I had in mind for my "locomotive" was a blend of modern and old... like someone had built a superbike in the past... in the future. makes no sense I know... and it took a special artist to interpret my insanity. I found Ian Halcott... of twinline motorcycles in Seattle fame. Ian had relocated with his family to a beautiful farm way back in the hills behind San Luis Obispo, so I went down to visit him.

I could tell we would get along, but he was so busy that fitting in my project was not in the cards. It wasn't until we started drawing some sketches that Ian realized this wasn't some custom tank I was commissioning... I wanted a whole bike, and it was going to stretch his imagination and his skills. I like to think it was the challenge of the project which got him to commit... and off we went.

FIrst step was to take my 749R and bring it down from SF to SLO so that we could use it as a buck on which to build the bodywork. As the bike itself was being assembled on the east coast at johann's shop... we needed something on which to fit the shapes which Ian's english wheel was going to shape... and that's how Frankenstein appeared.

yes.. those are non-functional fairings or fork covers... the idea again came from the locomotive up top... but also from a designer named Paolo Tex in Italy from whom I purchased some fiberglass fork covers he had made for his Ducati Monster kit.



I purchased the fork covers out of respect to Paolo's design.. but never intended to use them... not only because they were fiberglass but also because we needed a more pure shape.

in addition to the fork covers... we realized that we had to slim down the tail dramatically... and with that we needed a new subframe... Ian made a fantastic custom piece which to be honest was inspired by the Radical Ducati brand.





with that came a custom seat... made by his wife Caroline... I was looking for a little motogp hump on the back... nothing flat... the tail had to come up to meet the tank


the face of "Una"... was the toughest part. I wasn't about to make a single headlight cafe racer... I really wanted to stay true to Terblanche's streamline locomotive... but making a pretty "face" is hard... and a double cyclops vertical setup was never going to be anything but that which a mother could love... (look how much people hated the 999 for proof)... however beauty was never the object... it was something more... anyway... the "face" was born



there was a lot of work in making these parts... the tail piece for example was something like 20 separate pieces of metal.





some pics of the subframe


Ian the master at work...


Here is our first fitting... on my 749R which had since been a stripped of it's carbon bodywork, now carrying these wacky aluminum shapes...

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
i hate symmetry

the exhaust was another big part... again the influence of Radical Ducati bikes played a part... especially their "imola" bike...



I knew I wanted unequal height exhausts... but they had to flow with the shape of the bike...



finding the right mufflers was a very big challenge... made a few mistakes like this


before getting it right finally and landing on these awesome Akrapovik titanium ones... right bend, right size... right weight... had to figure out which bikes to grab them from, these ended up being from a gsx-r 750 fitment and were just right.



keep in mind that the actual bike being built was still in North Carolina at Johann's shop... while I was trying to order parts for it online... while looking at a 749R here on the west coast trying to figure out what might fit... to say that it was a guessing game was an understatement.

here we are goofing around, polishing stuff, and hanging with Ian's incredibly cute and intelligent kids.



 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
so why "Una"

the name "Una" had multiple etymologies...

... first of all, this bike, love it or hate it... was going to be unique... "una" is female for "one"... so, in english this could be "one female" or a "single female"... any way you slice it... this was perfect. not to mention that I could easily take the three letters and fashion them into the numeral "1" with a little bit of work.

David Harto, and industrial artist from Seattle helped us come up with the exact graphic... and then "UNA" was born.


 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
love and marriage...

so... now we had to get all the bodyparts from the west coast, married to the actual bike... on the east coat.

but... before all that, they had to go up to Seattle for graphics and finishing in the expert hands of David Harto... so, a big box was made the first of many very expensive shipping expeditions began...

Time however, was NOT on our side... David ahd his friend Mitchell pulled some serious work to get the bodywork finished.






finally, all the bodywork was ready and again into the shipping crate it went to treck cross country to Motomotivo and Johann's shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
deadlines aren't just for tv shows...

The goal was to ride this bike at ECM... this stood for East Coast Meetup... a little Ducati gathering for forum members of Ducati.ms that I had dreamed up 6 years ago, to take place by the Dragon in North Carolina... what better place than to unveil Phase I of Una, than in North Carolina, relatively close to Raleigh where she was born... and ride her for the first time on the Dragon and other fabulous twisty roads in that area.

this is the group photo from our 2013 event... a wonderful group of people who took the time to meet in person rather than just chat on a forum... some of the best days of my year each year to be sure.



meeting this dealine was tough... but it was at ECM in 2014 that I finally got to see Una (phase I).. complete... this was the first moment I got to see her.. peeking out of Johann's trailer.



and taking her out of the trailer for the first time...


first time at the dragon with Johann her builder.


first time showing her to all the ECM friends...

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
back home... unfinished business

so I got to bring Una back home after shipped her from east coast to west coast one more time... and got to enjoy her for awhile on beautiful California roads. I would like to add somewhat boring california roads from a riding standpoint as the twisty, hard radius roads of North GA, western North Carolina, and East Tennessee, are unbeatable to my mind... but the views which california offers are truly unbeatable.






the problem was.. there was something "off" about Una... it was like I hadn't had the balls to finish her the way she was intended to be finished... and in looking at her, i knew it, Ian and Johann her builders knew it... and everyone who looked at her knew it... I didn't know exactly what was wrong.. and I was too scared to find out... i was scared that my whole idea was BS, that I actually sucked at design and conception, and most of all, I was scared that I didn't know how to fix her, and to be honest... that it was going to cost me more $ to do it...

...but I knew phase II had to happen... so I called Ian back up.
 

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Welcome and those are some amazing bikes! You sir, are a true artist!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Phase II begins

while we had started with this


we knew there was something which had to be completed.. something which would somehow FIX what was off with Una... as scary as this was.. I called up Ian in San Luis Obispo again.. and he started sketching...

I told him i wanted a full trellis bike.. it was the only logical conclusion to this project... there was no escaping it, whatever the cost, whatever the process...

the sketches came fast and furious... rough at first...




then, as the idea took shape... calculations had to be made in order to keep the bike rideable... rake and trail changes calculated... anti-dive properties evaluated... custom shocks and springs evaluated.








Una was finally on her way to realizing her full potential... there was hope that the original locomotive could beautiful and functional...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
art and engineering under deadline duress

The only way to make the project financially feasable for Ian, and somehow affordable for me, was for Una to become a bit of a showcase for Ian's skills... so the Handbuilt Show in Austin Tx, during Motogp weekend for Mid-april 2015 was selected as Una's introduction.. her debutant ball if you will.

Meeting this new deadline meant many sacrifices, projects drop, engineering deadlines sped up, contractors and helpers called in... it was insane... i started wondering whether I was even prioritizing correctly in life.. focusing so much energy and finances on something which was actually kind of frivolous... there was a lot of self-doubt...

the only thing which kept me going, was Ian's amazing confidence and love for the project... i knew there was no turning back.. to help bring this to life, Ian enlisted the help of Jeremy Lacy from Downshift Studios... another person I am eternally grateful to for his ability to take words and put them into drawings... his renders brought Una Phase II to life.

from rough photoshops...


to sketches worth framing... Jeremy made it happen...


 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
real mathematics

at this point we had to enlist the help of Miles from Cyclonetics in San Luis Obispo... while we wanted to keep the front end as organic as possible... some custom pieces like the upper and lower triples, as well as the brake holders had to be designed, engineering and built out of billet... Miles was amazing in his dedication and precision.. and his speed.. without him the Handbuilt Show deadline would not have happened (and as of this writing... we are two days out from departure... so I actually don't know if we are going to make it to the Handbuilt Show for motogp weekend or not).

regardless... this si some of his handiwork...

from Jeremy's sketches...


To Ian's solidworks...




To Miles actually CNC-ready designs...


and back to Ian's hands...


the collaboration between these different people was everything you could ask for in order to make something so homegrown.. yet so complex... happen under such a tough timeline. there was no room for Egos, no room for procrastination, no room for unkept promises.. if only corporations worked this way...!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
TODAY... 2 days until departure

So, something which started as a vision during ECM 2013 when i saw a bike of Johann's... to April 7 2015 here in San Luis Obispo... with all these great people involved.. takes us to now.

We are 2 days from departure for the Handbuilt Show in Austin, Tx... and this is what Una looks like tonight....

I won't post anymore until we get to Austin, and the bike will be visually complete, although not operationally complete. no more words.. just pictures...

wish us luck in making it to the Handbuilt Show in Austin.. come say hi to Ian Halcott at his stand... I will be there most of the time also, save a few hours when I'll watch bits of the motogp race at COTA...







 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
2 days until departure... final build pics - the fitting











peekaboo of Una as she gets dressed... next pic will be from Austin... Handbuilt Show here we come!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
thank you's.

special thanks to these people in chronological order of participation/inspiration:

-Paolo Tex (front fork cover design inspiration)
-Johann Keyser from motomotivo.com
-Bellissimoto Crew
-Gianna from Kineo wheels in Italy
-the ECM crew - you know who you are... get better George - we are all rooting for you, and Gilly FFS!
-Ian Halcott - Twinline Motorcycles (and Micah)
-David Harto (and "schweaty fingers Mitch")
-Jeremy Lacy of downshift studios
-Miles of Cyclonetics


if you ever get a chance to work with these amazing professionals... consider yourselves lucky... I know I do.

Handbuilt Show... here she comes... Una FTW!
 
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